MUSIC SETS US FREE WHEN WE FEEL CAPTIVE: GEORGE ENESCU INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL AND COMPETITION IN YOUR HOME
Between March 18 and July 1, a true George Enescu International Festival Online was staged on www.festivalenescu.ro, to offer people from all over the world free access to quality classical music in the context of the unprecedented global crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Enescu Festival is the only classical music festival in the world that offered free access to its archive to classical music lovers everywhere, challenged by isolation and social distancing, through a selected program of resistance, solidarity, and healing through music. A number of 29 concerts were broadcasted free of charge during the state of emergency and alert in Romania.
The Enescu Festival contributed this way to uplifting the human spirit in its battle against COVID-19, following in the footsteps of the great composer George Enescu who took part in helping the wounded in the First World War, through the healing power of music.
The George Enescu International Festival Online recommended its public to observe the rules of social distancing and, instead of buying tickets to concerts, to donate to credible non-governmental organizations, which raise money to supply hospitals with the necessary equipment and materials to resist the virus.
ARTEXIM, the organizer of the George Enescu International Festival and Competition, obtained artists’ approval to broadcast online concerts and recitals recorded in the respectively 2019 and 2018 editions of the two events.
During World War I, composer George Enescu was a sanitary with the military hospital led by Professor Ion Moscu and he set up a symphonic orchestra meant to bring relief to the wounded. For months, he was helping to carry the injured between the operating room and the salons. Then he would play the violin for the patients. To Enescu music was “the language that speaks to all hearts, a healing force”. “Humanity needs to learn to be happy. The artist reveals to humanity the path to harmony, which is happiness and peace,” said composer George Enescu in an interview. He argued that an artist should not only be concerned with his art, but also with the destiny of mankind.
Following George Enescu’s example, the Enescu Festival Online not only shared its music with the public but also sent a message of social responsibility. It is vital for us all to observe the authorities’ recommendations, and to stay physically away from each other during this crisis while keeping alive our emotional intimacy, kindness, and mutual respect. It is also essential that everyone contributes according to their powers to solving the crisis, including through donations.
No Less Than 29 Free Online Concerts For Music Lovers
As a tribute and compassion for Italy, for its people and artists, the opening of the #EnescuOnline Festival took place with Verdi's Requiem, performed by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Fabio Luisi. The program of the first month included concerts by some famous orchestras from the 2019 edition of the Festival: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as prestigious musicians such as conductor Lawrence Foster, pianist Szymon Nehring, Romanian conductors Ion Marin and Tiberiu Soare, violinists Vadim Repin and Renaud Capuçon, soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci and pianist Denis Kozhukhin.
The program also featured the opera Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten, one of the masterpieces of the 20th century, which premiered in Romania, in concert version, at the 2019 George Enescu International Festival. The National Radio Orchestra performed under the baton of British conductor Paul Daniel, together with the Academic Choir of the Romanian Broadcasting, conducted by Ciprian Țuțu. The first #EnescuOnline series ended with an exceptional recital by violinist Midori and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
The second month of free online broadcasts was dedicated to heighten the people’s confidence and praise their infinite ability to reinvent themselves. The program included classical works loved by the audiences -compositions by Enescu, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and others, as well as a special piece, the opera Moses and Aaron by Arnold Schönberg, one of the opera performances of the 2019 Festival that brought the George Enescu International Festival a nomination for the 2020 International Opera Awards, in the top 5 genre events that promote opera music worldwide.
In the program of the second month of #EnescuOnline were presented renowned orchestras such as Orchestre National de France, the State Academic Symphony Orchestra "Evgeny Svetlanov", Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Orchestre National de Lille, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Also present in the second series were outstanding artists like conductors Vasily Petrenko, Maxim Vengerov, Gabriel Bebeșelea and Michael Sanderling, soprano Diana Damrau, pianists Evgeny Kissin and Nobuyuki Tsujii.
This series included as well the recording of the Opening Concert of the 2018 George Enescu International Competition, performed by the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Gabriel Bebeşelea and Iosif Ion Prunner, with Stefan Tarara (violin), Eun- Sun Hong (cello) and Josu De Solaun (piano), winners of the first prizes in the interpretation sections of the 2014 Enescu Competition.
During the third month of broadcasts, music lovers enjoyed four more of the opera performances presented in the 2019 edition that led to the nomination of the Enescu Festival by the 2020 International Opera Awards: Don Giovanni (Mozart), Missa Solemnis Beethoven), Die Frau ohne Schatten (Richard Strauss) and Bluebeard's Castle (Bartók).
In addition to these performances of great musical value, the third month of #EnescuOnline brought in the homes of music lovers around the world other artists who enriched the 2019 Enescu Festival with their presence, such as soprano Joyce DiDonato, renowned conductor Vasily Petrenko, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, charismatic bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, and many others. Also in this series, there were three Romanian conductors at the desk of some prestigious European ensembles: Horia Andreescu conducted the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cristian Mandeal - Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Cristian Măcelaru - Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.